It’s January, a new year is here, and the valuation process on real and personal property in Georgia is underway. Real property is land, buildings or any improvements such as the addition of a room, garage or swimming pool. Personal property includes boats, motors, airplanes, business equipment and/or business inventory. Each year between January 1 and April 1 a taxpayer can file a property tax return on property they owned on January 1 of that year and declare their opinion of the value of that property. In 2011, Senate Bill 346 became effective and it stated that all owners of real property, land and buildings, will receive an assessment notice every year regardless of whether a property tax return was filed or not filed. However, the Bill did not include personal property in the new law so taxpayers who own personal property must file a property tax return in order to receive an assessment notice.
Once the initial tax return is filed, the law provides for an automatic renewal of that return each succeeding year at the value finally determined for the preceding year. The taxpayer is required to file a new return only as additional property is acquired, or new improvements are made to existing property, or other changes occur. Personal Property Return Forms are mailed to taxpayers who are listed on the prior year’s county digest. Each year the Assessor’s staff requests a listing of business license applications from the county and each of the cities. A Business Personal Property Return is mailed to each of the new business owners. The Assessors receive a listing of boat registrations from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and new boat owners are mailed a Marine Personal Property Return. If you are a new business owner or have purchased a boat and motor in the prior year and do not received a return form, please contact the Assessor’s office and one will be mailed to you.
Owners of agricultural land, timberland and environmentally sensitive land may qualify for conservation use assessment. Appraisers in the Tax Assessors office can explain the special programs and help you with the application as well as explain any change in the law. The deadline for filing for a special assessment is April 1, 2016. If you received a letter from the Board of Tax Assessors in the latter part of 2015 notifying you that your Conservation Use Covenant would end on December 31, 2015, you have until April 1, 2016 to file an application to keep your property in this special assessment program.
Property owners can apply for homestead exemption year round; however the application must be filed by April 1 for the year you are applying for homestead. Any applications received after April 1 will be applied to the next digest year. The taxpayer must own the land, building and live on the property as of January 1 to meet the requirements for filing for homestead exemption. The exemption is deducted from the 40 percent assessed value of the homestead which is reflected on your property tax bill. Only one homestead exemption may be granted for one immediate family group. An application is completed and filed with the Board of Tax
Assessors. A signature on the oath that the statements in the application are true and correct is required on the application. Please bring a recent copy of a utility bill to show residence when applying for the exemption. Annual applications are not required and the exemption will be applied until there is a change in the legal place of residence or additional age related applications are filed. The following various types of homesteads exemptions offered in Effingham County briefly described:
Regular‐ Owner occupied with no age or income requirement may claim a $4,000 county and $2,000 school exemption.
Individuals 65 years of age and older may claim a $4,000 county and a $12,000 school exemption. This exemption has no income requirements. Applicant must be 65 years of age on January 1 of the tax year.
Individuals 62 years of age and older may claim a $4,000 county and $10,000 school exemption.
The exemption has income requirements for the school exemption. Applicant must be 62 year of age on January 1 of the tax year.
Individuals 65 years of age and older may claim a $6,000 county and $20,000 school exemption.
The exemption has income requirements. Applicant must be 65 years of age on January 1 of the tax year.
The income requirements on exemptions provided for individual’s age 62 and age 65 are based on the net income of the applicant and spouse not to exceed $ 10,000 for the immediate preceding year. In determining eligibility for tax year 2016, net income does not include income received as retirement, survivor or disability benefits under the federal Social Security Act or under any other public or private retirement, disability or pension system, except income which is greater than the maximum amount authorized to be paid to an individual and his spouse under the federal Social Security Act. The social security maximum amount for tax year 2016 used is $63,336. Income exceeding the maximum income from other sources such as rent and interest on investments must be $10,000 or less to meet the net income requirement after itemized or standard deductions have been applied.
Qualified Disabled Veterans or their un‐married surviving spouse or minor children may claim a $73,768 county and school exemption for 2016. The applicant must supply a letter from the Veterans Administration stating the 100% service connected wartime disability. The exemption has no age or income requirements.
An un‐remarried surviving spouse of a veteran killed in any war or armed conflict, an un‐remarried surviving spouse of a peace officer or firefighter killed in the line of duty may qualify for a 100% exemption on the home and up to 10 acres of land. Contact the Tax Assessors office for the details.
You can find the answer to some questions and view property information and parcel maps on our website at: www.effinghamcounty.org.; Department R-W; Tax Assessor. Forms are also available on the site.
Should you have any questions we will be pleased to assist you. You may contact the Effingham County Board of Tax Assessors office by phone at 912-754-2125, or you can visit our office at 901 N. Pine Street, Suite 106, in the Historic Courthouse building in Springfield, Georgia. You must enter the building at the rear entrance on Oak Street, as all other doors are locked for security. Handicapped parking is available at the Oak Street entrance.